Daily Archives: March 6, 2006

On K-12 funding, lawmakers shouldn’t turn back now

Some legislators have started to go wobbly on school finance, as the fiscal implications of the House and Senate proposals become clearer. That’s discouraging, though hardly a surprise. What was surprising was how little rank-and-file resistance there had been this session to the admirable bipartisan effort by the governor and legislative leaders to answer the Kansas Supreme Court’s orders and the Legislature’s own audit with large three-year funding plans. But even one of those may not meet the high court’s expectations. And passing a one-year, $175 million plan, as newly proposed by House Majority Leader Clay Aurand, R-Courtland, won’t come close to giving school districts what they need. Disregarding the cost audit as “politically impossible” also seems indefensible, especially to those in the large urban districts with lots of the poor, at-risk students the audit singled out as deserving far more funding. It will be no easy task for legislators to sort out how best to distribute the money and fund future years. But if lawmakers ignore their own auditors and settle for what is politically easy, they can expect more stern words from the high court, and perhaps another painful special session.
Posted by Rhonda Holman

Will ’08 GOP cattle call boost Brownback?

Later this week, notes MSNBC’s First Read blog, is one of the first stops in the 2008 presidential race: the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in Memphis, where a straw poll will gauge the strength of the current crop of GOP candidates, including Sen. Sam Brownback.
Brownback, argues analyst Chuck Todd, could be one of those best poised to benefit, because of his dark-horse status and low profile. If he does better than expected, it could give him a boost in standings.
Should be interesting to see the GOP field develop, since it’s so wide open. So far the (all unannounced) candidates include Brownback, Sen. George Allen, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Sen. John McCain and Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
I know it’s early, but any handicapping going on yet among WE bloggers? Who else could or should enter the field?
Posted by Randy Scholfield

Is personal or professional approval better?

Salon columnist Walter Shapiro calls it the “sixth-year swoon.” Both George W. Bush and Bill Clinton experienced it — a downward spiral in the middle of their second term. But the timing, Shapiro argues, is all that the two swoons have in common. Clinton’s troubles caused Americans to dislike him personally, but they continued to approve of his job performance. Bush’s struggles have elicited just the opposite reaction. So Shapiro asks the obvious question:
“So which is a better situation for a beleaguered second-term president: Is it the Clinton-esque ‘I love your work, but your personal life gives me the creeps’ or the Bushian ‘You’re a great guy, but maybe you should think about another career’?”
What do you think?
Posted by Melissa Cooley

Maybe distance doesn’t make the heart grow fonder

You’d think all the national publicity Kansas’ sentators get these days would move the needle on their approval ratings at home. Not so, or at least not much, according to SurveyUSA’s ongoing polling of all senators’ constituents. Of the Kansans polled last month, 54 percent approved of the job Sen. Sam Brownback is doing, compared with 52 percent last May. For Sen. Pat Roberts, the approval number in February was 56 percent, compared with 51 percent last May. In fact, the Republican senators’ numbers are remarkable only for how they fall short of Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius: She was at 60 percent last month, up from 54 percent in May 2005. And consider this: 54 percent of Republicans and even 53 percent of conservatives said they liked what she’s doing. Hard to see those numbers adding up to a re-election defeat in November.
Posted by Rhonda Holman

Has Schmidt been reading WE Blog?

Asked during an online chat with readers of the Lawrence Journal-World about the apparent lack of courtesy among those who toil at the Statehouse, Senate Majority Leader Derek Schmidt, R-Independence, said he detects a “strident tone in public discourse” generally these days “that is not helpful in building consensus or reaching compromise.” He added: “We see a variety of factors that drive impatience. For example, the speed and informality of the Internet somehow encourage people to say things in e-mail and chat rooms that they would never say person-to-person in polite society.”
Posted by Rhonda Holman

Lunch should be a learning experience

The Wichita school district has enacted policies that focus on providing healthy eating options for students, but Alice Waters, who established a gardening and cooking project in the public schools in New York, argues in this piece that educators should go a step further:
“Schools should not just serve food; they should teach it in an interactive, hands-on way, as an academic subject. Children’s eating habits stay with them for the rest of their lives. The best way to defeat the obesity epidemic is to teach children about food — and thereby prevent them from ever becoming obese.”
Unless children are taught how to eat right, she argues, they are likely to keep refusing healthy options.
Posted by Melissa Cooley